Dexter School Board Names New School

The parking lot at the new Dexter elementary school was being worked on here in this photo on Nov. 15. Photo by Lonnie Huhman

By Lonnie Huhman,

Names have been selected by the Dexter Community Schools Board of Education for the new elementary school, and the complex it’s part of.

By a 6-0 vote of the school board at its Dec. 10 meeting, the board wants to make a fresh start and picked Dexter Early Elementary Complex for the overall structure that is made up of the current Cornerstone Elementary School and the soon-to-open newly constructed school.

Cornerstone will be changed to Anchor Elementary School and the new school will be Beacon Elementary School, which will be the new home for the students and staff from Bates Elementary School.

It was noted in the school board report, “The administration strongly recommends that the first option, Dexter Early Elementary Complex with Anchor Elementary and Beacon Elementary, be selected.”

The names will be officially unveiled when the new complex and school opens on Jan. 28.

Before the school board vote, board member Rob Mitzel gave an update from the facilities committee, who discussed the information shared,input received and the recommended names generated thus far based on the school board’s naming process.

He said there were some things the board needed to come to a consensus on before the naming decision could be made.

They were: Does the Board agree with the Bates name staying with the existing building? Does the Board wish to have one name for the complex with two wing/sub school names or have two separate stand alone school names which are connected by a shared Innovation Center?

The facilities committee said in its report, “If the latter, then there may be no need to rename Cornerstone. If there is no need to rename Cornerstone, should we have an additional opportunity for the Bates community to name the new building as conditions that produced the proposed names have changed.”

The school board choose to start fresh and rename Cornerstone.

As background in the school board packet, it was noted, “the naming process began this summer with the board recommending naming the entire building Cornerstone. Then in late August, the Board heard from the Bates community who shared concerns regarding that option. As a result, the Board directed the administration to create a process that gains input from the teachers and the community.”

“That process was implemented, took significant staff time and came up with the options presented to name the full complex and either leave the names (Dexter Early Elementary) Bates/Cornerstone or go with Anchors/Beacons (Harbor Elementary). Recently, the Bates family expressed concerns about the existing Bates building losing its name,” the facilities committee said in its report.

School board member Julie Schumaker, who the rest of the board agreed with, said that they should respect the Bates family’s concerns and keep that name at the current building on Baker Road, which will become home to more early childhood programs.

School board member Barbara Read said it was her opinion, the situation at hand involved two, separate schools and she wasn’t sure if a complex name was needed.

In the end, the board followed the views from Bates principal Ryan Bruder and Cornerstone principal Craig McCalla, who said they, representing their schools, would like to see a complex name because that would be one way to connect the two schools, which will share some learning spaces. Both said their staffs are looking forward and have been preparing to work more closely together.

Bruder said they will operate as two buildings.

Another reason a complex name was desired came from Hope Vestergaard, DCS director of communications. She said having a complex name would be a good way to point parents, during their initial steps in enrolling their kids, to the place where their young fives through second-graders will go to school. She said this could alleviate any initial confusion as to why students will go to one school and not the other, which has happened some times with Bates and Cornerstone.

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